The system uses our Auto360 patent pending rotating auto-triggering camera mount. With the camera mount it is very easy to create full 360 degree aerial panoramas by clicking only one switch on your RC transmitter.
As the camera gimbal (and landing gear) rotate under the copter via the pan servo, a sensor (reed switch) passes over properly placed magnets and switches instantaneously. When the switch is connected to the camera shutter release port it will trigger the camera shutter.
The neodymium magnets are pressed into a plate on the camera gimbal at user selected intervals. In the case of the arrangement we use most there are a total of six magnets at 60 degree intervals.
The mounting plate as holes at 45, 60, 72, and 90 degree intervals for 3, 4, 5, 6, & 8 shot panorama triggering.
A DSLR or Mirrorless DSLR is used with a fisheye wide angle lens. We've had great success with a modified Sony NEX-7 and Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens. The camera must be able to be triggered with a wired remote. Many Canon & Nikon DSLR cameras support this. Some cameras such as the Sony NEX line do not. If the camera does not it can be modified as shown in this Sony NEX-5 shutter button hack tutorial.
Once the array of images has been captured they are merged, or 'stitched' into a seamless panorama output with a third party panorama stitching application. We use PTGui. The merged panorama can then be displayed by HTML5, Flash, or QuickTime VR on any web page. Pano2VR is a great application to author final panoramas.
For an in-depth explanation on how to photograph spherical panoramas have a look at Rosauro's excellent tutorial.
We offer complete ready to fly systems starting at $5,795 (not including camera/lens).
The video below shows how the magnet trigger system commands the camera shutter to take a photo as the magnet passes over the shutter trigger sensor.
Below are some merged aerial panoramas output from a collection of six images. Click and drag your mouse inside the panorama to navigate. Or you may click the navigation buttons along the bottom of the panorama. Be sure to try 'fullscreen' mode as well.